We all wish we had more time in the day. Sometimes even the microwave seems to take “too long” in getting dinner on the table. While waiting for the timer to go off, you may find yourself in suspended animation. Too much time to wait and too little time to walk away. What if you could take these microwave minutes, and turn them into productive time?
Here’s a guide to help you do just that:

1. Brainstorm. You probably have a mental checklist of things that need to be done in your kitchen and in your home, but you never quite find the time to do them. Get a academic diary and pen, and while you’re waiting for the microwave to beep, set about listing as many of these chores and tasks as you can. They don’t all have to be major projects like painting the kitchen. Include things like making a grocery list, unloading the dishwasher, sweeping the floor, wiping down the fridge, and emptying the trash. Use your microwave minutes to fill this list until you can’t think of another thing that needs to be done.

2. Filter. It will probably take you several nights’ worth of microwave minutes to brainstorm your list. Now it’s time to focus. While you’re waiting for the microwave, take your pen and cross of any task that cannot be completed in small increments. Painting the kitchen is a good one to remove from the list, for example, because even though the prep-work can be done a little at a time, the rest of the job has to be done in one long stretch for maximum efficiency. However, by way of example, if you know you’re going to be painting the kitchen this weekend, go ahead and leave ‘Put up painter’s tape’ on the list because that can be done a little bit at a time.

3. Break it down. Find ways to break larger tasks into smaller ones. For example, instead of listing ‘Clean the living room’ divide the task into smaller tasks such as sorting the mail, polishing the end tables, and cleaning under the sofa cushions. It’s ok if your microwave minute list keeps getting longer. The longer it is, the more tasks you’ll have to choose from.

4. Post Your List. You may want to take your microwave minute list, type it up, and print it out. But even if you don’t, you should still post the list. While you’re waiting for the microwave to go off, go find a roll of clear tape. Use it to post your list of microwave minute tasks to the inside of a cabinet door.

5. Baby Steps. Whenever you find yourself waiting around for the microwave, think of that time as Microwave Minutes. Open your cabinet door and peek at the list. Choose one of the tasks to tackle while you’re waiting for the microwave to beep. You may not finish the task. It may take you a week’s worth of microwave minutes to clean your kitchen windows, but that’s still time saved! Little by little, you can be productive and get organized while stealing time you didn’t think you had.